5th July 2014

Mardale Ill Bell to Shipman Knotts


Walk Overview
Time 8am to 3:05pm
Duration 7 hr 5 min
Distance 11.3 mile
Ascent 3100 ft
Walking with Paul Sharkey
Kentmere - Scales - Hartrigg - Kentmere Reservoir - River Kent - Lingmell End - Mardale Ill Bell - Nan Bield Pass - Harter Fell - Kentmere Pike - Shipman Knotts - Stile End Pass - Kentmere
Fells visited
Directory places visited

Starting Point Information Centre
Roadside parking, Kentmere village

Parking is at a premium in Kentmere, with the early bird generally being the one who gets the space. I should add that apparently, one of the fields near the village is occasionally opened for parking, but I've yet to come here on such an occasion.

I imagine many people come here to walk the Kentmere Horseshoe route, which is all well and good, and I've enjoyed this walk many times myself. However, there are also lots of other walks that can be undertaken from Kentmere, not lest, a simple out and back walk to Kentmere Tarn.


Weather Readings

The Gadget
All readings were taken using a Kestrel 2000 Weather Meter
Live temperature recorded at the time I press the hold key
Maximum Wind Speed Maximum wind speed since the weather meter was turned on at each location Average Wind Speed
Average wind speed since the weather meter was turned on at each location
Wind Chill
Combination of wind speed and temperature. The gadget does the calculations not me.

Route Map


Todays walk has been on the cards since the end of last year but for one reason or another it has been repeatedly postponed. Usually because of the weather, although occasionally it was because of our availability to walk on the same day. However, the decision was made to do the walk today so here we are outside Kentmere's rather odd looking church at 8 in the morning. It had absolutely emptied down yesterday and everywhere there was evidence of this, from the puddles on the road, the wet bracken we ended up walking through, but nowhere more so than the River Kent which we had to wade through.

It's about three mile if you want to walk from Kentmere church to the Reservoir, so, even after driving from Staveley to the village itself, you're still nowhere near the end of the valley. The three miles are really beautiful and even the most ardent valley avoider would struggle to find fault with this route. I know there's a road, but there's nothing in the rule book to say you have to walk on it, particularly as a grass verge has been installed to give people the option of softer ground to walk on.

Scales Farm.,

We pass Hartrigg farm, admire the peacefulness of the place, and imagine what it would be like to wake up to this kind of seclusion everyday.

The fells on t'other side of the valley were still hanging onto the early morning cloud but that speck of blue on the left hand side more than hinted that the day would turn out to be a good one.

The head of the valley is now in view, along with our main objective of the day; Lingmell End.


Looking back towards Rainsborrow Crag and the spoil heaps from the now disused mine workings.

A little before we reached the reservoir the sound of the water running was clearly heard on what was otherwise a silent walk through the valley.
The highest point in th ecentre of the picture is Lingmell End.

Kentmere Reservoir in front of Lingmell End.

Right, okay, we need to get across this. There was no chance here so we had no choice other than to walk further up stream to find a shallower spot. This turned out to be easier said than done as we tested a few places before deciding they were just too deep and fast flowing. In the end we chose to wade through the beck 'bootless'. In hindsight, we should have done this next to the reservoir.

After a bit of adventure crossing the beck we were back on track and with tingling feet from the cold water, we make our way slowly and carefully through the waist high, soaking wet bracken.

After a fight with the bracken we reach the bottom of the climb and both agree "it looks quite steep".

We briefly walk next to Lingmell Gill.

Over on the left hand side I look across to Yoke, Ill Bell and Froswick, all of which are looking nice and clear in the sunshine.

over on the right, Nan Bield Pass can be seen crossing the side of Harter Fell.

When you're walking up, the fellside is 'in your face'. When you look back down, it's then that you realise just how steep it is. Paul said you know a hill is steep when the top of your poles are higher then your shoulders.



The gradient eases to a positively relaxing angle as we make our way across to Mardale Ill Bell summit.

Okay, it may not be the most pleasant picture you've ever seen but it isn't all pretty flowers and nice views when you're out in the countryside. I'm not even going to try and describe the smell.

Mardale Ill Bell summit in front of High Street.

Just across from the summit and we admire the view down to Haweswater.

A close up of Mardale Head shows the water level is quite low at Haweswater.

A little further on now and the view shows Small Water and Mardale Head.

We weren't planning on stopping anyway, but the shelter at the top of Nan Bield Pass was full so we passed on a "hello" to the folk in there and carried on walking up to Harter Fell.

Looking back to the shelter and Mardale Ill Bell, , , although the summit is actually out of shot.

This is just about the best vantage point for a view of Small Water. From here we could see how clear the water was and I have to admit it looked very inviting.

Over there you see Yoke, Ill Bell and Froswick above Kentmere Reservoir.

Harter Fell footpath.

A look behind us shows Mardale Ill Bell, High Street, Rampsgill Head, Kidsty Pike and High Raise. I also notice the couple on the path behind us. "they seem to be walking at a good pace" one of us said.

Harter Fell summit.

and again, in the background are Rampsgill Head, Kidsty Pike and High Raise.

On the left hand side of the picture is Kentmere Pike and further along the fence line from us are the couple I mentioned earlier. It took them no time at all to catch up and overtake us. As I said, they seem to be walking at a good pace.

Sunny Harter Fell was too far to nip back to get a brighter picture of the summit.

Kentmere Pike summit.


Longsleddale is a long dale (as you'd expect it to be). From the walk down here you get a fine view down most of the valley.

Looking back up to the craggy section of fellside below Shipman Knotts.

As we loose height on the ridge walk, Kentmere Church comes into view to remind us the walk was sadly coming to an end.


Here you have a nice foreground in front of a nice background, and all found under an ever brightening sky. Perfect conditions for the walk back to the cars at Kentmere Church.

This is Kentmere you find beyond the village. Beautiful countryside to say the least.

Back up the road we look and above us is part of the ridge we'd just walked down.


The view from the steep road outside the church.

And all too soon we're back outside the church at the end of a brilliant walk on the fells.

David Hall -
Lake District Walks